Yanika Attard

Doctoral Researcher

Current Status

PhD (Part time)

Research Topic

What are the views of able young people with autism, their parents and professionals on what needs to be taught in lthe ife skills curriculum, and what are the promoters and barriers to achieving such skills?

Research Summary

As a professional working in an autism specialist centre in Malta, I have observed throughout the years that whilst the majority of able young autistic people who receive intervention from the centre have made their way to post-secondary education or employment, their functional level of independence in daily life skills remains low within the personal (e.g. hygiene and appearance), domestic (e.g. managing household duties) and community (e.g. travelling, time and money management) domains. Consistently, research suggests that although individuals with autism may have the necessary intellectual and verbal ability to acquire daily living skills, they are finding it difficult to apply such skills to function independently in life without the support of significant others.

The main purpose of this study is to learn what is keeping young able autistic persons from attaining life skills and what type of functional independence they would like to achieve. Daily life skills are considered crucial for independent living and are associated with good adult independent outcomes in autism, while they appear to be responsive to intervention. On the basis of the reviewed literature, it was found that the ‘voice’ of young autistic people about factors associated with their independent functioning, in terms of what functional life skills they prioritise and the barriers they experience to achieve them, is limited. Moreover, there is paucity of research about the main viewpoints of different stakeholders namely, professionals working with autistic individuals, parents, and the young people with autism themselves, in terms of what daily life skills they believe need to be developed, and the perceived barriers to acquiring functional independence. Thus, it is not clear what factors may constitute actual barriers and what factors need to be considered in a long-term plan, to alleviate such barriers and promote life skills for able persons with autism.

This study aims to use Q methodology to address this gap. By looking at the priorities and ideologies of different stakeholders, this thesis aims to identify similarities and disparities across the different stakeholders that may help to provide insight into essential emphases for independence policy, practice and research in the field of autism. Furthermore, understanding the perspectives and experiences of individuals with autism and their parents will facilitate recognition of common priorities and concerns, and help to identify elements that are important to include in a long-term intervention plan for able autistic individuals.

Research interests

  • Autism and independent functioining
  • Autism and the development of daily living skills
  • Adult outcomes in autism
  • Social inclusion of children with autism in mainstream settings

Research Supervisors

Dr Despina Papoudi

Dr Glenys Jones

Source of Funding

Malta Government Scholarship Scheme 

Contact Details

Email: YXA231@student.bham.ac.uk